Judge tosses discrimination lawsuit against East Lansing

The East Lansing Police Department announced the promotion of Lt. Tresha Neff on Facebook in March 2017. It happened while Neff was in the midst of a lawsuit against the ELPD. Photo courtesy: East Lansing Police Department

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the city of East Lansing that was filed by one of its own police officers.

Then-Sergeant Tresha Neff filed the lawsuit in January of 2016 claiming she had been denied promotions within the East Lansing Police Department because of her gender.

Neff claimed that on numerous occasions, she was denied promotions, training, better schedules, and benefits, over male co-workers who she says were less qualified than her. When she asked why, she says she was told she needed to be more well-rounded.

Neff also said that in 2011, after 17 years of service, she received her first promotion to sergeant – but that on that same day, a male co-worker was also promoted to sergeant; and that despite having less seniority and less training, he would be senior to her.

The suit goes on to say she applied for a lieutenant position in 2013 and 2014 and was passed over again.

But a federal judge dismissed the suit in April, ruling that since there wasn’t any direct evidence of discrimination, that it was up to Neff to prove discrimination. And the judge said Neff “does nothing to explain why this (her arguments) made her a ‘plainly superior candidate,’ nor does she point to other probative evidence of discrimination. While a raw number of years of experience would certainly be relevant to promotion decisions, Plaintiff has not advanced any argument that shows how it should be determinative in this case.”

Neff, who continues to work for the East Lansing Police Department, was promoted to lieutenant in March while the case continued.

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